Toshimaru Nakamura & Martin Taxt – Pan on Fire


Picture the juxtaposition of an instrument whose input is basically nonexistent (unless you want to include its handler’s creative spirit in there) and a fat member of the brass family typically connected to everything but noisy improvisation. Then add the “guerrilla factor”: namely, Martin Taxt feeding his tuba’s signal to Toshi Nakamura’s mixer, thus disrupting any “nice” intention the Japanese might have had of filling the air with subtle shifts in the color of the frequencies as he often does. Pan On Fire — you guessed it — does not feature sensual sonorities; but, for some strange reason, it allures and ultimately convinces the wary listener.

We could compare our initial response to that of children running on the site of a car crash as soon as it happens; wide-eyed, ears perked up. Ever since the first of ten tracks one’s attacked by fusillades of intrinsically violent discharges. The overall tension is only rarely broken by segments where the couple vary their schismatic methods through sounds characterized by a lesser tendency to disintegration in favor of (still unstable) huge vibrational elongations and about-to-collapse reiterations. However, all we hear contains the seeds of a harmonic development of sorts. At times we identified micro-chords inside a ferocious drone; in other sections, the massive rumbling links the mind skull with the extraordinary acoustic content of an earthquake (if you want to learn more on this subject pick up a copy of Douglas Kahn’s Earth Sound Earth Signal, a book that clarifies numerous aspects of man’s relation with the planet’s subterranean orchestrations). There are even attempts of rudimentary melody in there; Taxt does play “regular” notes every once in a while, as distorted and deformed as they appear.

Whatever angle we look from, this is a solid punch thrown by two improvisers who have no fear of giving something up in terms of aesthetic pleasure, an uncompassionate collection of not-exactly-cordial sonic eruptions. Find a remote corner for your most tolerant being, and observe with detachment: there’s much to build upon to move beyond the needs of the “snug and warm”. Nakamura and Taxt didn’t come here to accept settlements, nor to show easy ways out.